Atlanta United announced it has officially cut ties with defender Fernando Meza as the two sides mutually terminated his contract with the club. Meza had spent the first half of the 2021 season on loan with Defensa y Justicia in Argentina after. He has already signed a new deal with Club Necaxa in Liga MX, the same team with which he last played prior to joining the Five Stripes.
Meza had one of the more forgettable Atlanta United tenures. He was seen as the central defender that would replace the departing Leandro Gonzalez Pirez in Atlanta’s defense for the 2020 season. But then the pandemic and injures hit Meza hard, and he was never able to settle into a regular place in the team throughout a chaotic season.
The club sent him on loan to Defensa y Justicia last winter in an effort to clear his roster spot and international slot designation from the roster. It does not appear that Meza’s loan to Defensa would have relieved the team of any cap space, per MLS rules:
Upon loaning a player, clubs will receive roster relief but not Salary Budget relief unless otherwise agreed to in the loan agreement.
And while MLS clubs are permitted to buyout a maximum of one contract every offseason and receive cap space, league rules state that buying out of a contract during the season will not reflect any changes in the budget for that season:
A club may buyout one player (including a Designated Player) who has a Guaranteed Contract during the offseason and free up the corresponding Salary Budget space. Such a buyout is at the club’s expense.
A club may not free up space in the Salary Budget with a buyout of a player’s contract during the season. If a club buys out a player’s contract during the season, the buyout amount will be charged against the club’s Salary Budget.
For those scoring at home, Atlanta will not receive any budgetary or allocation money relief this year from the termination, but it obviously does clear the money for next season. The move immediately clears his roster space and international slot, which was already out of the picture according to MLS loan rules.
The original terms of Meza’s loan agreement, according to Cesar Luis Merlo, allowed Defensa the option to extend the loan past the original end date of June 30 to the end of the calendar year of 2021.
Defensa y Justicia cerró de palabra a Fernando Meza, defensor del Atlanta United: llega cedido hasta el 30 de junio con chances de extender el préstamo al 31 de diciembre. pic.twitter.com/Db0crg4qyZ— César Luis Merlo (@CLMerlo) February 18, 2021
After six starts in seven appearances for Sebastian Beccacece’s Defensa squad, the parties decided to part ways prior to the end of the year.
Best of luck in Mexico, Fernando!